What are your chances for a white Christmas?

Find places that have the best chance of snowfall according to the historical record

One tall tree decorated with white and gold Christmas lights stands among evergreens in a forest.
One tall tree decorated with white and gold Christmas lights stands among evergreens in a forest. (iStock)

Minnesota. Maine. Upstate New York. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Practically anywhere in Idaho. And of course, the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These are the parts of the United States where weather history suggests you want to be if you're looking for the best chance of a white Christmas.

In collaboration with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, Climate.gov has released an updated version of their map that shows the historic chances of there being at least 1 inch of snow on the ground at weather stations across the United States on December 25. The map is based on the latest (1991-2020) U.S. Climate Normals. Darkest gray shows places where the probability of snow on Christmas is less than 10%. (Sorry West Coast, Gulf Coast, Deep South!) White shows probabilities greater than 90%.

The 1991–2020 Climate Normals are the latest three-decade averages of several climate measurements. This collection contains daily and monthly Normals of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, heating and cooling degree days, frost/freeze dates, and growing-degree days calculated from observations at nearly 15,000 stations, the majority of which are operated by operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

Map showing the historical probability of a white Christmas.
A map of the United States showing the historic probability of at least 1 inch of snow on Christmas Day (based on climate data 1991-2020). (NOAA)

While the map shows the historical probability that at least 1 inch of snow will be observed on December 25, the actual conditions in any year may vary widely from these because the weather patterns present will determine the snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas day. These probabilities are useful as a guide only to show where snow on the ground is more likely. For prediction of your actual weather on Christmas, check out your local forecast at NOAA's weather.gov.

Curious about how climate change may have affected the new Historic Chances of a White Christmas map? Explore an interactive version of the map, which includes station-based data for Alaska. 

Want more background on the data behind the map? Read NCEI’s take on this story.